Global warming becomes real: A look at the looming beer crisis

I try not to be too much of a global warming preacher. In my personal life, I recycle, walk a lot, take public transportation, and generally do everything in my power to reduce my energy usage. However, there are few things that annoy me more than holier-than-thou eco-Nazis, and I decided a long time ago that I would never, ever become one of them. I refuse to lecture people about light bulbs, yell at them for throwing away recyclables, make snotty comments when they keep the fridge open for too long, or pick up any of the other endearing little habits that dedicated green warriors seem inclined to inflict upon the rest of us.

Part of the reason that I don't like talking about global warming is the fact that it's somewhat difficult to explain its effects. Frankly, there seems to be a rejoinder for every argument against global warming: as people often point out, summers that are a couple of degrees hotter don't seem like that much of a big deal, unless you're a kid or a really old person. For that matter, while rising water due to the destruction of the polar icecaps will be a really big problem for people in coastal regions, most of the world isn't coastal. Beyond that, the death of thousands of different species of aquatic life isn't really all that big a deal, unless you're a really big fan of fish; for the rest of us, there will always be cows, chickens, pigs, deer, and other land-based life forms that we can consume.

However, I recently discovered something that beautifully illustrates the dangers of global warming, a far-reaching, catastrophic problem that affects every one of us, and my just be the key to explaining why green living is so important:


You heard me right: global warming is killing the beer that you love. It is conspiring to ruin one of the great delights of life, the beverage that makes darts enjoyable and summer evenings perfect. In short, global warming is undermining America, Mom, apple pie, and civilization as we know it.

Basically, it works like this: global warming is changing weather patterns around the world, raising the temperatures and reducing the humidity of many areas that are currently used for farming. This, combined with water shortages, is reducing their agricultural yield. The plants that have been hardest hit include hops, barley, and other grains, which has already caused increases in the prices of some beer ingredients, a trend that has been particularly damaging to microbrewers. The brewmaster of Brooklyn beers, for example, recently noted that his malt prices have gone up by 50% over the last year, and other brewmasters were predicting that the prices of certain strains of hops will increase by up to 200% over the next few years. In the short term, this means that the prices on Brooklyn beers have risen by roughly 15% over the last year; in the long term, prices on many beers are set to almost double.

On the one hand, this is somewhat funny. After all, in the grand scheme of things, paying $15 for a six-pack of Bud doesn't qualify as one of the world's great tragedies. On the other hand, I can still remember the mid-eighties, when Michail Gorbachev's anti-vodka campaign led to massive home brewing, with horrifying consequences, including blindness, poisoning, and some truly horrifying wallpaper paste-based liquors. While that won't happen here, I imagine that the hot nights of a post-global warming future will be particularly unbearable without the benefit of a nice cold one. While I wait for the coming apocalypse, however, I'm going to do my part and go to all the "Save the Ales" events that I can find.

See you there.

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. He wants O'Douls to be outlawed.
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